Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
6:46pm: The Royals are "moving forward" without Santana even if he is available on a one-year pact, GM Dayton Moore tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). "The candidates for our rotation are in-house," said Moore.
6:29pm: Free agent starter Ervin Santana has switched gears and is now looking for a one-year deal, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (links to Twitter). Santana wants to get signed and into camp as soon as possible, and does not intend to wait to ink a deal until after Opening Day.
Of course, if Santana signs a one-year deal before Opening Day, he could still be made a qualifying offer again next year. That type of scenario was said to be out of the question by Santana's agent, but we learned last night and this morning that Santana's team of representatives was undergoing some changes. It would appear that a change of strategic direction has resulted.
With the new focus on achieving a pillow contract, Santana hopes to land on a team with a strong offense, says Rosenthal. The Blue Jays and Orioles are two teams that could meet that requirement and have had interest, Rosenthal adds. It is not clear whether there is anything connecting those teams specifically to Santana since his shift of plans.
Neither is it clear whether other clubs remain in the mix, or whether Santana's market could expand. Earlier today, there were conflicting reports as to whether the Phillies had (Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, via Twitter) or had not (Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, via Twitter) inquired about the righty's services. Of course, in theory, many other clubs could potentially have renewed interest in Santana under these changed circumstances.
Cole Hamels' scheduled throwing session was canceled today, as the Phillies' co-ace reported feeling a fatigued arm that wouldn't allow him to go through the throwing motion as he normally would, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Hawkins. Said Hamels: "My body is telling me,'Hey, you’ve got to take a step back and start over.'" The outlook for Hamels isn't great, as Hawkins reports that he is now likely to miss the entire month of April. Hamels said a cortisone injection or MRI is unlikely, as all the tests he's done have checked out. Hawkins' article is chock-full of Hamels quotes for Phillies fans and interested parties. Here's more on Hamels' situation and the Phillies...
- Hawkins' colleague Corey Seidman looks at the Phils' options to fill out their rotation in the wake of Hamels' setback. Seidman notes that Ethan Martin has been shut down with shoulder inflammation, and Jonathan Pettibone is also dealing with shoulder pain. Adam Morgan and Shane Watson each had shoulder surgery this offseason. Seidman calls Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez locks for the rotation and says the battle for the fifth spot comes down to Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, David Buchanan, Jeff Manship and Sean O'Sullivan. He lists left-hander Mario Hollands as a darkhorse candidate as well.
- Manager Ryne Sandberg tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Phillies will utilize defensive shifts more frequently in 2014 and have already been working on it in Spring Training. As Gelb writes, the Phillies shifted fewer than 28 of baseball's 30 teams in 2013 and graded out as the worst defensive club in baseball last year, per Baseball Info Solutions. Said Sandberg: "It's something that's grown, and the information is there. Teams have had some success doing that, so that's something to think about and apply."
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post examines the coming payroll crunch that will soon face the Nationals. While the division-rival Braves have locked up their young core on multi-year extensions that have delayed their free agency, only Ryan Zimmerman is in that situation in Washington. As Kilgore notes, Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister and Ross Detwiler are all free agents after the 2015 season, and extending any of those players becomes more difficult in light of the fact that they approach free agency at the same time that Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Stephen Strasburg become more expensive via arbitration. Kilgore wonders if recent talk of a Mike Trout extension could lead to optimism about a Harper extension as well, but also notes the difference between agents; Craig Landis is likely more open to a long-term deal for Trout than Scott Boras would be for Harper. Here's more regarding the Nats and the NL East...
- In a piece for the Washington Times, Mark Zuckerman looks at the Nationals' options for their No. 5 starter in Spring Training. While Ross Detwiler, Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark all have their merits, Zuckerman notes the strengths of each at adapting to different roles. He writes that the easiest decision is Detwiler in the rotation, Roark in the bullpen and Jordan at Triple-A, but stresses that GM Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams need to make the decision with the team's long-term interests in mind.
- MLBPA executive director Tony Clark wouldn't bite when asked if the Mets' payroll was drawing attention from the union, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Clark said that the MLBPA pays attention to payrolls "in general" and called the Mets a "marquee franchise" but wouldn't elaborate. Clark said he isn't aware of any payroll constraints on the Mets, who will have a roughly $87MM payroll that represents a slight decline from last year's mark.
- Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia News writes that while Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez's Spring Training debut didn't go particularly well this weekend, Phillies coaches and executives took away some positives from the outing. Gonzalez allowed a run on two hits and four walks with two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings and is fighting with Roberto Hernandez for the fifth rotation spot. Pitching coach Bob McClure and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. offered some praise, especially since Gonzalez has scarcely pitched over the past two years due to injury and suspension. Lawrence writes that Roberto Hernandez is still the favorite for the fifth starter role.
In case you missed it over the weekend, the Braves inked Cuban backstop Yenier Bello to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training. Bello is likely ticketed to begin his career here in the minors, but he adds some critical catcher depth to the Braves, who of course lost Brian McCann to the Yankees this offseason. More from the NL East to kick off your Monday morning...
- Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters, including Newsday's Marc Carig (Twitter link) that Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan are the favorites to win the fifth spot in his rotation. MLB.com's Marty Noble writes that Collins is still considering Jenrry Mejia, though the youngster is more likely to be used in a long relief role out of Spring Training. Noble writes that the Mets feel that role would allow Mejia to continue to build arm strength and can also serve as a developmental tool.
- ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin writes that Mike Piazza is in Mets camp to serve as a special instructor but says he's not looking to get into coaching on a full-time basis anytime soon. Piazza says he has a seven-month old son, so his focus appears to be on his family. Travis d'Arnaud calls Piazza's tutelage "a dream," as the Long Beach, Calif. native grew up idolizing Piazza as a Dodgers fan.
- New Phillies hurler A.J. Burnett made his Spring Training debut over the weekend, and it came against his former club, the Pirates, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Burnett himself both told Biertempfel that there was nothing weird about Burnett pitching against the Bucs instead of for them, and neither hinted at any ill will. Hurdle simply called the change "part of the game," and Burnett offered nothing but respect for his former club.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark writes that although the Braves lost Tim Hudson to the Giants via free agency, talk that the club lacks an ace is overblown, as Kris Medlen has developed into that type of pitcher for the team. Assistant GM John Coppolella said of Medlen: "Look, the fact that he’s not 6 feet tall and that fact that he doesn't throw 95 [mph] makes it seem like he’s not a power guy, but he’s very good with what he does. ... He’s a huge part of our staff. And we hope he will be for a long time."
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark doesn't expect the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be reopened before its 2016 expiration to address issues with the qualifying offer system, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. "It’s very difficult to open up a CBA," said Clark. "Suffice it to say, if there are issues during the course of any agreement, we continue to have discussions that may not require the CBA be to opened up, making sure that whatever the concerns are, whatever the issues are, and if they can be discussed in some more formal fashion, so be it, but more often than not, come 2016 when we have an opportunity to sit down is when we’ll do so." Last night, Aaron Steen asked MLBTR readers about the qualifying offer and nearly 47% want to tweak the QO while 25% want to eliminate it entirely.
In National League news and notes on Oscar Sunday:
- With the ink barely dry on Homer Bailey's six-year, $105MM contract extension, the Reds will be in the same situation with starters Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Johnny Cueto next year. Owner Bob Castellini told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay the team wants to retain all three. "We’re going to try to sign all these guys," Castellini said. "Whether we can or not, I don’t know. I don’t have a crystal ball."
- Castellini also told Fay he is not pleased with the media's coverage of the Reds' offseason because it has had an adverse affect on the team's revenues. "That season-ticket number is the most important number we can generate," said Castellini. "We knew we wanted to sign Homer. We knew we were going to make some other commitments. It’s not that we didn’t look. It gets written in such a way – 'Well, the Reds aren’t doing anything' – that really does affect people buying season tickets." Castellini provided Fay with details of the club's revenue generated through ticket sales, sponsorships, and the national TV contract adding neither he nor any of the other principal owners or investors have ever taken money out of the franchise.
- Last month, the Braves gave Jason Heyward a two-year, $13.3MM contract. In two years, the perfect storm of baseball's economics, Heyward's age, and actions taken by the Braves will set the 24-year-old up for a huge payday on a likely barren free agent market, according to Mike Petriello of ESPN.com in an Insider-only piece (subscription required).
- With mixed reviews to date, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez made his Spring Training debut yesterday. Phillies GM Ruban Amaro Jr. was upbeat about what he saw, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. "He probably threw better with his stuff as far as his velocity and breaking ball since he's been in camp," Amaro said. "I was encouraged that his stuff was better than it had been in his sides. And hopefully it will continue to progress in a positive way." Pitching coach Bob McClure added (as quoted by Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Inquirer), "I saw a very competitive (guy), and that is what I was really hoping for. And he might be one of those guys that’s not the best practice player, but you put him in a game and he competes." Reports surfaced last week Gonzalez could open the season in the minors.
- Solid pitching will be key to any improvement the Rockies hope to make this season. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick focuses on young starters Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler while the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck examines the Rockies' adherence to pitch counts to protect their starting rotation and the corresponding reliance on their bullpen, which could be called upon to record 10 or 11 outs every game.
Kyle Kendrick of the Phillies is highly motivated as he prepares for free agency, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer writes. Gelb points to Jason Vargas, Scott Feldman and Ricky Nolasco -- all of whom signed contracts worth at least $30MM -- as potential comparables for Kendrick. "When similar guys close to your numbers sign those deals, that's a good thing," says Kendrick. Kendrick has never pitched more than 182 innings in a season, so 200 innings in 2014 would likely go a long way toward helping him strike gold on the free-agent market. Here's more from the National League.
- The Diamondbacks' fate will be determined primarily by returning players like Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin, but their additions of Mark Trumbo, Bronson Arroyo and Addison Reed could be what finally gets them past .500, Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com writes. The Diamondbacks are also likely to receive a contribution from top prospect Archie Bradley, although the addition of Arroyo should allow the team to give Bradley some extra minor-league time. Bradley, 21, pitched most of last season at Double-A Mobile.
- Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez tells the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer (via Twitter) that he will make $635K in 2014, a very significant raise for a pre-arbitration player. Earlier in the day, the Marlins announced that they had signed all of their 28 pre-arbitration-eligible players. Fernandez, of course, is following up a stellar first season in which he won the Rookie of the Year award and finished third in NL Cy Young voting.
The ultimate lesson of the Phillies-Ben Wetzler affair, writes Baseball America's Aaron Fitt, is that leverage has shifted too far in favor of MLB teams in the amateur draft. Teams generally force quick (albeit legally non-binding) decisions by players on draft night, pressuring them to agree to accept below-slot deals. "The NCAA is going out there saying basically, don't get an advisor," an agent tells Fitt. "Meanwhile, MLB has changed the rules to where advisors are more necessary than ever." And now, Philadelphia's reporting (and the NCAA's suspension) of Wetzler for utilizing an agent adds a stick to the carrot of bonus money and the pressure of the short decision-making timeframe. Needless to say, Fitt advocates for a change to the system.
Here's more out of Philadelphia:
- Shoulder issues are putting an early strain on the Phils' pitching depth, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Having already seen prospect Adam Morgan go under the knife, Philadelphia is now monitoring young pitchers Jonathan Pettibone (who threw a pen session after getting a cortisone shot for a lingering shoulder problem) and Ethan Martin (who took an MRI because he was dealing with pain and working well under peak velocity). It is worth noting that the team also lost a potentially valuable rotation depth piece when it waived Chad Gaudin over medical concerns.
- GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the injuries were not explainable, other than the fact that, "sometimes anatomy is just anatomy," reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. Noting that the organization had "one of the most state-of-the-art, medically sound organizations in baseball," Amaro indicated that the cluster of issues was plain bad luck. "You can't do anything about it, other than try to prevent it," said Amaro. "If the guy breaks, he breaks."
- One starting pitcher without apparent physical issue is Kyle Kendrick, who is entering his last season before reaching free agency. As Gelb reports, the 29-year-old righty says that this offseason's free agent spending spree -- which included some sizeable deals for durable, mid-rotation arms -- provided added motivation. "When similar guys close to your numbers sign those deals, that's a good thing," he said. " ... Obviously you see them and you just want to put up better numbers." Though Kendrick hopes to remain in Philadelphia, he says, he has not had any talks with the club about a multi-year deal.
Mets fans had a scare yesterday when projected Opening Day starter Jon Niese had to travel to New York to undergo an MRI after experiencing a dead arm. However, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweeted earlier today that the results of Niese's MRI were positive; doctors said his shoulder looked "perfect," and he will be able to resume throwing as soon as he returns to camp. Elsewhere in the NL East...
- CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes that 2014 could finally be the year that the Phillies trade Cliff Lee if they fall out of contention. Lee says that the concept of trade rumors don't matter to him: "I really don't care. There’s no sense really thinking about it. Honestly, it usually means a good thing. It means you’ve had success and other teams really want you." Lee's contract is guaranteed through the 2015 season and contains a vesting option for 2016.
- Rehabbing Phillies setup man Mike Adams threw his first bullpen of the spring today and said he felt great afterward, writes MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Adams felt some discomfort when throwing from flat ground on monday, but the Phillies' head trainer assured him it was ok. Adams, set to earn $7MM in 2014 after missing most of 2013, said he threw at about 85 percent intensity today and could be in the Phillies' bullpen sometime in April.
- Christina De Nicola of FOX Sports Florida spoke to Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill about his wealth of pitching prospects. Beyond Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, and Jacob Turner, the Marlins also have minor leaguers Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, Adam Conley, Brad Hand and Brian Flynn. "Those guys are all starting pitchers, which is an envious position to be in," Hill said. "We're proud of our depth, happy to have it and just hopeful that they all develop into what we think they can be."
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo calls recent trade acquisition Felipe Rivero a "huge-upside left-handed starter," writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. Wagner spoke with Rivero about his transition from the Rays organization to the Nationals.
Let's take a look at updates on some situations shaping up around the league:
- Mike Trout's one-year, $1MM contract with the Angels is surely just the start of some historic earnings, and ESPN.com's Jim Bowden breaks down what it would cost the Halos to lock up their young star for different possible terms. Bowden values Trout's arbitration years at a total of $66MM, and says that he should earn between $32MM and $35MM for his free agent years. A six-year deal, then, would be worth $162MM, while a ten-year extension would land at $302MM. Bowden says the Angels want to get as many years as possible, and adds that, were he in charge, he would demand at least four free agent seasons.
- The Mets have no active trade dialogue concerning first baseman Ike Davis, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. Nevertheless, Rubin says he expects the chatter to pick up over the coming month.
- Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia has had his MRI reviewed by the team physician and Dr. James Andrews, and neither found evidence of structural damage, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. While that has the team feeling better about things, GM John Mozeliak still advocated caution. "I think the days of feeling perfect are over," he said.
- Though he downplayed an earlier report that the White Sox had scouted Yankees catchers recently, Chicago GM Rick Hahn said that the team was still exploring trade possibilities with other clubs, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Hahn also noted that the club has ample middle-infield depth, which led to Jake Elmore being designated for assignment today. The GM added that the team hopes to be able to trade Elmore, Hayes adds on Twitter.
- Rehabbing reliever Joel Hanrahan told Bowden on XM MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) that he hopes to sign with a new club before the spring wraps up. Hanrahan said that he is still considering any and all interested suitors.
- Union chief Tony Clark said today that the MLBPA is still in the early stages of learning information about the Phillies' role in the recent suspension of former draftee Ben Wetzler, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. "The interest is the same we would have in the draft in general," Clark said. "These guys are connected to our institution. ... To that extent, we are gathering information as we speak. Yes, we are concerned. Based on what we find out will determine what, if anything, lends itself to further discussion, but we are concerned enough to be inquiring." Salisbury reports that the Phillies felt a handshake agreement was in place with Wetzler, and that someone in the organization later reported him to the NCAA for having an agent present during talks with the team.
TODAY: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com provides a list of the other clubs who sent representatives to watch Santana: the Phillies, Blue Jays, Pirates, and Rangers. Scouts in attendance told Heyman that Santana still needs to build his arm strength back up, but looked to be in great shape and threw as expected given his point on the recovery curve.
YESTERDAY, 5:40pm: The Orioles were among the teams to see Santana, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The club could be interested in bringing him in on a minor league deal, says Encina.
3:26pm: Throwing in Fort Myers today, rehabbing starter Johan Santana showed his current form to seven teams, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Santana mostly threw in the high-70s, topping out at just 81 mph, though he did flash his usually phenomenal change.
Though those numbers sound less than promising, the workout comes very early on in the process for Santana to regain strength on the mound following a second shoulder surgery, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Indeed, a mid-season return has always been the early target for Santana. Agent Peter Greenberg said there is no "firm date," with Santana committed to "tak[ing] it conservatively this time" and "not rushing things."
Per the above two reports, both the Yankees and Twins were among the teams with scouts in attendance.